The young woman behind the desk within my local post office looked bewildered. “I think we’ve got some somewhere”, she mumbled before returning with a pile of dusty envelopes. “Nobody really asks of these any longer,” she admitted.
A hundred years ago this month the world’s very first air mail service began
Passed under the counter and into my hand was a typical example of a mode of communication that includes all but vanished. Compliment of Skype, texts and e-mails, there’s need that is little for the small pale blue envelopes because of the diagonal red and blue stripes all over border, extra thin blue writing paper and multitude of stamps and post marks that constitutes an air mail letter. Dr. Richard Saundry, ninjaessays editor regarding the British Air Mail Society Journal, believes that we’re at risk of losing something both romantic and powerful.
“I think it’s very regrettable that nobody appears to use air mail any more”, he tells me. “We are now living in a very lazy age now the other has been lost. There’s a huge thrill and excitement, and some sort of romance in receiving an air mail letter through the opposite side around the globe in your door mat. The online world just can’t replace that.”
A hundred years ago this month the world’s very first air mail service began. Flying from Allahabad, near Delhi, only seven years following the Wright brothers made their first forays into the air, the plane, flown by a pilot that is french Henri Pequet, travelled 15 miles to Naini. On board were six and a half thousand letters including one written by Motilal Nehru, father regarding the president that is first of India.
Great britain wasn’t far behind with the air that is first flight lifting removed from Hendon to Windsor later that year. Today the speed that these pioneers succeeded in reaching to get letters around the world is seldom beaten. Richard during the fresh air Mail Society told me of a letter he possesses which was sent from Buenos Aires to China in 1938. The letter found its way to 13 days- a feat that would be hard to match now without having to pay reasonably limited to a private courier company.
As a young child I was thinking there is nothing more exciting than getting occasional letters from my aunt in South Africa. Covered in strange stamps and smudged post marks, the letter that is creased contain pages of dense hand writing describing life in Cape Town in the latter years of apartheid. It seemed almost like getting a letter that is personal an esteemed foreign correspondent plus the gravitas of receiving these letters was so excellent that, 20 years on, I still possess them. I still receive news from her, but these days it is by e-mail, the tone is scrappy and, during my hastily returned missives, a giant degree of effort and attempt at phrasing and sentence structure is missing.
“Getting an air mail letter was a great deal a lot better than a phone call”, admits Kate Hunter, a retired ward sister in Nottingham, whose husband had a lengthy career within the oil industry.
“He was away for months at a time through the 1970’s and I also always found the phone that is rushed he could occasionally make in my experience really unsatisfying”, she recalled to me.
“What I really loved were the days when an air mail letter from Kuwait or Dubai would slide through the letter box. It absolutely was only in writing that my better half really was able to express his feelings, let me know exactly how much he had been missing me and provide me a much truer idea of what he was going right through. There’s an honesty to a tactile hand written letter which you can’t be in a phone call or an e-mail. I might like to have the letter, flake out regarding the sofa with a cup of tea and lose myself in just the handwriting for a while. Although the letters could take ages to reach, I somehow felt closer to him whilst holding an air mail letter than I ever did when we spoke from the phone.”
With my own air mail envelopes in hand, i got to my home to realise I’d made a error that is serious. I needed to write, but to whom? I experienced e-mail addresses for my buddies based everywhere from Montevideo to Monaco but I found i did son’t have a single postal address for any of them anymore. So what did i really do? No choice was had by me aside from to e-mail my friends asking for their address.
Five days later, and I still haven’t got around to writing anything- preferring to possess a ‘Skype’ chat instead. Maybe Richard was right about us residing in a lazy age. A hundred years from now, will our descendents have any basic idea about the allure of a letter of love, heartache or politics which includes travelled around the world by plane?